Etiquette & Languages

Etiquette and Languages observes how people relate to each other through behaviors and speech. Find information on topics like tipping, sign language, good manners and slang.

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Henry Louis Gates Jr. will serve as editor-in-chief of the new Oxford Dictionary of African American English, which is slated to be published in spring 2025.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

In recent years, the word "demisexual" was added to dictionaries, while "aerodrome" was dropped. But just who is making these lexicographical decisions?

By Laurie L. Dove

Dr. Anthony Fauci has famously said he hopes the handshake never comes back. If it doesn't, is the elbow bump the most logical greeting to replace it? If it's not, what is?

By Jennifer Walker-Journey

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Victorian etiquette wasn't just about sending a thank you note or holding a door open. There were a jillion rules of propriety to observe. How many of these do you know?

By Alia Hoyt

In this age of electronic communication, the art of letter writing has all but been lost, but the knowledge necessary to address an envelope is something we all should certainly possess.

By Francisco Guzman

Millions of people around the world still speak whistled languages, but they're becoming less common in a world of electronic communication and text messages.

By Jesslyn Shields

At-thay epends-day on-way at-whay ou-yay ean-may y-bay eal-ray.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

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You know that time in summer when everything slows down and not much is going on? The German word sommerloch neatly sums it up. But where did it come from?

By Dave Roos

Why do conversations about race get so awkward? And what are some ways to keep them friendly and productive?

By Alia Hoyt

The majority of Native Americans speak the English language, so how many Native American languages are still in existence and being spoken today? It's a complicated question.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Sign language interpreters provide critical lifelines to the deaf community, especially during crises. So who exactly are these superhero signers?

By Stephanie Vermillion

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Xenophobia, or the fear of immigrants and strangers, has a long, unsettling history in the U.S. and across the globe. What makes this prejudice so prominent during hard times throughout history?

By John Donovan

And it's expressions like 'fake news' (instead of information fallacieuse) and 'cool! that are to blame.

By AFP

The two terms are often used interchangeably, though they have distinct meanings. We'll explain how they're different.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

Our daily language is often geared for a world that recognizes people as either male or female. But with our growing recognition that not everyone falls into these categories, how can we speak more gender-inclusively?

By Danielle Douez

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Over the holidays, lots of gift-giving will be going on. But some people get anxious about opening a gift in front of the giver in case they don't like it and can't fake enough enthusiasm.

By Alia Hoyt

How did this natural tic become the signal for so many social expressions?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

And everyone used it, not just the local deaf community.

By Kate Kershner

Rudeness is not just a personal annoyance. It can actually affect health and safety. Why is that? And why do we replay a rude interaction over and over in our heads?

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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It doesn't get more awkward than the check arriving and no one knows who's paying for what. Is it rude to expect birthday guests to pay for their own meal?

By Alia Hoyt

Middle names aren't a purely modern invention, so why do we still have them?

By Laurie L. Dove

What does Boston have against the letter R? Why do Minnesotans sometimes drag out the 'O' sound? And what about the Noo Yawk accent?

By Mark Mancini

The world boasts about 7,000 languages. Close to half are threatened with extinction.

By John Donovan

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Despite what you might think, everyone has an accent. It just becomes noticeable when it's different from others in the same community. How do accents develop and why is it so hard to lose one?

By Alia Hoyt

Surely a level of Hell is reserved for inconsiderate parkers. But can the police actually write them a ticket? Well, it depends...

By Patrick J. Kiger